4 Great NAS Solutions for Linux

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Regardless of what operating system you use, storing your data is important. One of the most popular ways to back up data is with an NAS. A Network Attached Storage (NAS) device is a server with a heavy focus on data storage, making it the perfect candidate for a home file server.

The main reason one would build (or purchase) an NAS device is to back up data. With one of these on your network, all of your computers have easy access to a central backup solution via Samba or NFS and an accessible folder.

Backing up data isn’t the only reason for an NAS, though. Servers specifically designed to hold data can be a great basis for a Plex, Emby, or Subsonic installation. Along with these ideas there are many other reasons why a network storage device may be a good idea. The following are four of the best Linux distributions for the job.

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Amahi is a great open-source option for home-based NAS users, offering the option to replace the DHCP/DNS settings on your router with those integrated into the Amahi software, so you can control and name all NAS-connected drives on your network. It is more a home server than strictly an operating system, but it’s still incredibly robust, with a neat interface and dedicated app and plugin store that lets you beef it up with things like Plex and even a Minecraft server.

It comes with plenty of backup options, including full disk network backup and scheduled backups to Windows and Mac PCs. Amahi makes it easy to create users to share your files with across a network and control who sees what.

One concern that users have raised about Amahi is security. While there have been no known breaches, Amahi seems quite determined to not take any responsibility should things go wrong, and further information about how they keep your data safe is somewhat nebulous. It does come pre-packed with its own version of OpenVPN, though, so that helps.

Amahi also gets extra points for offering links to alternative NAS providers should it not suit your needs, which is unusually honest of them!

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When building an NAS powered by Linux, Open Media Vault should be everyone’s first choice. Why? For starters it runs on Debian stable: a rock-solid release with very few new features. This ensures your server is always going to work and won’t choke under the weight of major changes.

Everything regarding Open Media Vault is very hands-off. You don’t even really have to know a whole lot about Linux or Debian to get this going. Once it’s installed on the system, everything can be managed by a sophisticated web interface that the system sets up on its own.

OMV supports Samba/CIFS, FTP, NFS, Rsync and TFTP. Along with all of that, Open Media Vault has support for plugins. These plugins can easily be installed by going to the plugin section in the web UI. Plugins include OwnCloud, LDAP, shairport, etc.

If you’re looking to create an Linux-powered NAS and are a newbie or are just looking for a well-supported solution, you’d be crazy not to go to Open Media Vault as your first choice.

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Rockstor is an NAS distribution based on CentOS and powered by BTRFS that claims to be your own personal cloud. Like the other distributions on this list, it has a web UI that can be accessed to manage and monitor the system, along with standard support for various file sharing protocols like Samba/CIFS, NFS, etc.

Note: Rockstor is free, but you must pay a subscription fee to get stable updates.

The most compelling aspect of Rockstor is its plugin system. Users will be able to choose from a variety of plugins that are known as “Rock-ons.” Rock-ons include OwnCloud, Bittorrent Sync, Discourse and more. Obviously this is not the only NAS distro on the list to sport plugins. However, the way it’s done on this distribution is very unique. Plugins are distributed and deployed inside Docker containers. This means you’ll be able to install some seriously complex plugins to your NAS without much fuss.

Overall, Rockstor is a competent NAS solution with some interesting aspects to it. If you’re looking for a Linux-powered NAS distro and favor CentOS and Redhat over Open Media Vault’s Debian base, this is a solid choice.

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Openfiler is another rock solid NAS solution with a pretty decent web management (complete with various tools to check how your data is doing, add shares, etc.) interface to boot. It is certainly not fancy but promises rock solid performance nonetheless. Unlike Open Media Vault, this distribution is more focused on enterprise or professional solutions.

NAS features include support for CIFS, NFS and HTTP. Openfiler also has support for iSCSI, NIS, LDAP, Active Directory, Snapshots and many, many other features. Suffice it to say that this distro is a professional solution for those looking to take serious control of their data.

Linux home servers dedicated to storage is not a new concept. However, as data gets bigger and bigger, it makes sense that Linux-based operating systems start to cater more towards casual users.

Nobody, not even hardcore Linux fans, wants to configure file sharing by hand across a local network by one-hundred percent of the time. That’s why more and more people are turning to turn-key NAS distributions for all their file storage needs. I hope that with the help of this list you, too, will understand how great having a Linux-powered NAS can be.

Do you have an NAS? What operating system are you running on it? Tell us below!

This article was first published in April 2016 and was updated in January 2018.

Image credit: Row of hard drives by DepositPhotos

8 comments

  1. I think that the best solution out there is the NAS4FREE ..!!
    ————————————————————————————————–

    NAS4Free is an Open Source Storage NAS (Network-Attached Storage) distribution based on FreeBSD. More stable than ever I have tried before.! In fact I have one running at my home from a USB Stick and it is working just fine ..!!

    I would like to say a few things about NAS4FREE as I think it is the best against the ones mentioned in this post.!

    1] It has the new ZFS file system designed by Sun MicroSystems which is very scalable , relay able , supports high storage capacities , protection against data corruption , efficient data compression , snapshots and copy-on-write clones, continuous integrity checking and automatic repair, RAID-Z and native NFSv4 ACLs.

    2] Small iso size

    3] It has Torrent Server installed to use it when you want to download everything remotely. Very useful.

    4] You can put very easily the Ownclound php cloud service and configure yourself.

    5] It has a 32 bit version for old systems and it is very light to run it on old systems, so go ahead and make a use of your old rusty PC.!!!!

    6] Great community with excellent forum support.

    That’s it and thank you.

  2. I second arxaios comment. I’ve been using NAS4Free (originally FreeNAS) for years now with no troubles. The fact that you can boot and run from a USB stick enables you to make use of ALL your SATA connectors to save your data to for max HDD space. Great Web based GUI to control it so it is easy to administer.
    Highly recommended!!

  3. Just got done doing some testing: I was looking for RAID, wireless, and iSCSI
    NAS4Free – no Wireless support (same with FreeNAS)
    Rockstor – no iSCSI support
    Openfiler – buggy – RAID arrays kept disappearing
    Openmediavault – iSCSI support is buggy.

    Openmediavault seemed to be the best of the bunch, but not were great.

  4. i was browsing and testing a few alternatives for NAS OS. My problem was that on my jetway intel atom based barebone, i was not able to install any versions of Nas4free or freenas os, seems like freeBSD based OS/boootloader very picky.
    Openmediavault debian based os installed without any issues.

  5. A home storage solution is a necessity for most power users. But there is a sweet spot between maximum utilisation of hardware space vs protection of select data from hardware failure vs fancy file system features that I have found hard to find. You can find affordable mini-itx motherboards with 4 sata ports and few with 6. Cost efficient hdd capacity is either 3 or 4 TB. 16 or max 32 GB DDR4. Max $100 for CPU. Case like the Fractel Desing 304.

    Freenas and Nas4free are solid andidentical, except some guys on the Freenas community support pages are smoking something that the home-user in me would love to have once in a year. Openmediavault is buggy. I am testing all of these as VMs on an ESXi/Xeon with 6 virtual HDDs, 2 vCPU, 8GB ram.

    I need NAS performance good enough to not be the choke point on a Gigabit LAN for 4K video files and a 802.11N 5ghz for upload and viewing of photoshop files. Security good enough to expose some of my jpg/png folders to access from internet over ssh. To dump phone backups and look at some pics on the move. A “cloud”, if you must call it that.

  6. Netgear ReadyNAS OS is probably the most stable and feature rich NAS software compared to the suggestions made by other commentators on this article. NetGear ReadyNAS is known as a complete solution with a hardware disk cabinet and software already installed. However, the Linux Debian based OS can be downloaded for free in several different formats. There are .iso, .vmdk, and even Windows and MAC versions. The OS also has it’s own web server that allows complete configuration of the NAS.

  7. I have been using NASLite -M2 from Server Elements for about 5 years now and it is rock soild. Never ever had any problems.

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